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When you for example buy a used car it is always a good idea to change all it's fluids, including the gearbox oil (if not a proper service book can prove it has been done recently). The gearbox oil in for example the E34 series is not, as many believes, a lifetime oil that never needs to be changed. In the recommendations from BMW, a gearbox oil change is included in a Service II maintenance. This occurs typically every second year or after 50000 km, whichever comes first.
When changing the gearbox oil, you not only give the gearbox fresh oil, you will also have the opportunity to clean out all the small metal fragments that have been created inside the gearbox and collected on a small magnet on the drain plug.
Tools, Skills And Parts
The job is very easy to perform and does not require any kind of special tools.
The following tools are required for this particular work (tools marked with green checkmark are optional).
The following spare parts are required for this particular work (parts marked with green checkmark are optional). Note that the BMW internal numbers are intended for a BMW 535i E34 -89.
Draining Gearbox Oil
Drive around your car for about 10-15 minutes to warm up the gearbox oil.
Gearbox (Getrag 260/6) with the fill plug (1) and drain plug (2) visible.
Remove the fill plug first! If you by any reason brake or can't remove the fill plug you will only end up with an unfinished job and you can drive home and finish it another day. But if you first remove the drain plug and drain the gearbox completely of oil and then find out you can't add any oil into the gearbox, you probably wished you read this first.
A closer look at the gearbox (Getrag 260/6) and the drain and fill plugs.
Place a drain pan below the drain plug and unscrew the plug. Wait until all oil is completely drained. Reinstall the drain plug and torque it with correct amount of torque.
Filling Gearbox Oil
When you are about to reinstall the drain plug, you can do it in two ways. Either clean then existing drain plug (remving all metal fragments collected on the magnet) or use a new drain plug.
It is up to you to decide which way to go. The important thing is that all metal fragments are removed and the magnet if fully functional. The picture below shows an example of the amount of metal fragments the magnet on the drain plug have collected during a couple of years.
Metal fragments originating from the gears inside the gearbox have been properly collected by the magnet on the drain plug.
After the drain plug has been reinstalled and torqued it's time to grab your gearbox oil. The gearbox oil provided by BMW for this particular gearbox (Getrag 260/6) is Castrol TQ Dexron III. One bottle contains 1 liter and each bottle comes with a handy filler hose. You need two of these since the oil capacity in a Getrag 260/6 is about 1.25 liter.
Of course will other brands fulfilling the Dexron III specification work as well. Another popular gearbox oil for this particular gearbox (Getrag 260/6) is the Castrol Transmax Z. The major difference between Castrol TQ Dexron III and Castrol Transmax Z is that the Dexron III is mineral based while the Transmax Z is synthetic based which makes it more suitable for longer change intervalls.
Note regarding the product names, around 2005 the "Castrol TQ Dexron III" product changed name to "Castrol TQ DIII". And in spring 2011 it changed name again to "Castrol Transmax Dex III Multivehicle". But it's the same product.
The gearbox oil provided by BMW for the Getrag 260/6 gearbox, the Castrol TQ Dexron III mineral transmission oil.
Now start slowly to add oil through the filler hole until it begins to overflow. The correct amount of gearbox oil is simply just flush with bottom of the filler hole. Make sure you can not add any more oil, reinstall filler plug and torque it with the correct amount of torque.
The fill plug (23 11 7 527 440) with a 17 mm hex head.
The drain plug (23 11 7 546 876) with a 17 mm hex head.
Gearbox Oil Capacity